Frugal February - end of week 2...
Half way through the challenge and still ticking along. Gone are the sweeping financial sacrifices of years gone by - we're not in that place any more and this was never the purpose of this challenge. The name of the game this time round is to stop and think, to re-train ourselves to return to the habit of "yes but is it actually needed? Is it of value to us?" before spending. And so far, it's working!
Our shopping spend this week ended up precisely where I hoped - with the arrival of the meat box expected for Tuesday we were keen to see what stuff we could use from the freezer before the spoils from the box needed squeezing in there. The meal plan reflected this, and I pulled out a couple of "ends of loaf" ready for weekend breakfast toast. (Sometimes if MrEH doesn't get time to make rolls we make a loaf for our weekday lunchtime sandwiches - and when this happens there is always a bit of loaf left over past the point when it's fresh enough to use for sandwiches - he's taken to slicing this ready for use and popping into a bag in the freezer ready to take out a slice at a time and toast). Last Friday night's dinner of "home-made Indian takeaway" used up a couple of naan breads that had been waiting for just such an occasion. A chunk of shin of beef was taken out for defrosting ready for a massive pot of beef stew that fed us on Sunday and again on Tuesday, some liver and bacon came out ready for Monday night's meal, and the second half of a pack of pork was used to make a "use up the veggies" stir fry yesterday. As a result of this the shopping list veered towards the minimal and spends were £17.48 total spend which we were happy with. I took out £10 food money and the Aldi spend came from this with that balance being on the Pay+ app again. Unusually for me there was a second supermarket visit yesterday when I popped in to grab a sandwich to take with me to Scampton today - wanting to avoid the "meal deal" option I picked up a sandwich then wandered to the crisps and snacks aisle and grabbed a multipack of crisps well below our "target price" of 10p per packet at £2.49 for 30 packs. While in store I also noticed a deal on for the wholewheat couscous we use - 2 packs for £1 rather than the standard 70p a pack is a good saving and I decided it was well worth purchasing a couple of packs. If the offer is still on at the weekend I will be stocking up on a few more as well - it's not an offer I've seen before and on a product we use a lot of it's a deal worth having. Total of £5.99 spent.
A chance discussion in the office in the week made me realise how different our shopping habits probably are to a lot of other folk's - the question arose as to whether we were planning pancakes for Tuesday night, to which my response was that we weren't, and in fact we'd not even got any eggs in so we definitely wouldn't be. A chorus of "how can you not have eggs?!" followed - well, quite simply as there were no meals requiring eggs on the plan, and the last of the previous box had been used, so there was no requirement to buy more currently! Generally speaking the only things we buy routinely so we "always have in" are storecupboard and freezer goods. Fresh stuff gets bought on an "when needed" basis as I find that this minimises waste. So if I put omelettes on the meal plan I'll buy a box of 15 Free Range eggs as this is the best value way of buying them, for me, and I'll then factor in meals the following week that involve the rest of the eggs too. So we tend to go "feast to famine" on the egg front - a couple of weeks with lots of eggs and then a couple of weeks without any at all. (And of course now I've thought about it next time we DO have eggs I might well use some of them to make pancakes!)
Spends this week then: Not too many.
- Some accommodation has been booked for airshow trips for me for later in the year. I've shopped around, studied a few of the booking sites AND double checked that I can't get a cheaper price by going direct to the properties themselves rather than through a booking site. It's all budgeted and saved for ready and cashback has been earned where possible.
- MrEH needed to put money on his smartcard for his work travel.
- £20 to tax MrEH's car for another year. (Yes - and that yearly tax price is one reason why we're in no hurry to replace it!)
- Beers at the rugby club while we watched the match on Saturday - £10 from me for a round and MrEH and others bought rounds too.
- On Wednesday night we had a meal out. We budget to eat out once a month but do't always do this - on this occasion though we decided to do so as I was taking part in a 5k race at the Olympic Park after work and I knew it would be late to eat by the time we got home. We shared starters and had a main course each at a nice pub locally to where I work and it cost just over £30 which was paid on the credit card.
- Sunday we had intended to get ice creams at the RSPB reserve we visited but got back to the shop too late to allow it so instead stopped and got a bar of chocolate each as a treat.
- MrEH also treated me to a cup of tea and a piece of cake at parkrun - it felt richly deserved after a freezing cold and very icy run and was in aid of a good cause too with donations going to MIND.
Our monthly takeaway budget remains untouched for a second month - and will stay that way for another week also as I've a quick but tasty meal planned for tonight.
The rugby club is forming a key part of our social life these days - with the club having moved to its new location last year it now has the advantage of being a short walking distance from home so we're tending to spend more time there than we used to at the old club. The bar prices are good and it's really nice to socialise with friends a bit more than we used to particularly without having either a long walk or needing to think about getting a cab home. From my perspective I can tend to "hibernate" a bit during the winter months and it's been god for me to be out and about a bit more than usual too.
Next week's main plan on the financial front is to work out what we intend to do for a long weekend we have coming up and plan ahead for that, making any bookings that are needed at the best prices we can find and planning things to do while we're away. If there is anywhere in particular that we want to visit that is chargeable this will give us time to get Clubcard vouchers changed if this will help, or to look for any discount codes that might come in handy. Also to have a proper discussion of where we see things going from here in relation to our cars - currently we both drive diesels and with the changes coming in on the MOT Test shortly this may have to change. Finally I want to take a look at our electricity costs and pay any outstanding balance we have there as winter starts (hopefully!) to draw to a close and we will be discussing whether an increase in the Direct Debit amount would be sensible. Sitting down on an occasional basis to have a "summit meeting" on all things financial means that we're both singing from the same hymn sheet and we both know where we stand. Although I look after our household finances on a day to day basis we both keep infiormed on everything as should anything happen to take me out of the loop this means no nasty surprises for MrEH.
Finally - fancy the chance of some "Free money"? Who doesn't! For those of you not already in the know the Free Postcode Lottery basically does what it says on the tin - it's free to join, you just register a single postcode (can be work, home, anywhere you like!) and then check the site daily to see if you've won. They guarantee not to generate you any spam, and don't sell your details on to third parties. I already know of one person who's won the main daily prize and it's absolutely genuine - so why not sign up and have a go for yourself? (For transparency the link in this post is a referral link which will add to my "bonus" on the site although not generate me any actual money unless I do win one of the draws at any stage.).
Until next week!